Martijn van Mensvoort - © Hand Research
  • Nails

OCTOBER 2, 2009

Nails Grow Faster on a Proteine Diet!
While fingernail growth varies among people (e.g. with age, climate), new research points out that today people's fingernails grow 25 percent faster than 70 years ago!

Rule of thumb: how nails are growing fast!

Shiny fingernails.

The speed of finger and toenail growth has surged by nearly a quarter over the past 70 years, a new study has revealed. And the modern diet – rich in protein from readily available fish, meat, eggs and poultry – may be behind the spurt.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina compared results to a study of nail growth published by Oxford University in 1938 and another study from the 1950's.

The results revealed that big toenails now grow by more than 2mm a month, compared with 1.65mm in the Thirties. Thumbnail growth rate was 3mm a month in 1938 and 3.06mm in the 1950's study. However, the average thumbnail now grows by 3.55mm a month – an increase of more than half a millimetre over seven decades.

During post-war rationing, foods rich in protein were scarce. Instead, diets consisted of carbohydrate-rich foods such as potatoes and bread.

Scientists monitored 195 fingernails and 188 toenails over three months in 2009 and published the findings in the Journal Of The European Academy Of Dermatology And Venereology last week.

The new results also showed that fingernails now grow by 3.47mm every month – almost twice as fast as toenails. The nails of younger people and men grow faster. The little finger nail grows much more slowly than other fingernails, at a rate of 3.08mm each month. The middle finger has the fastest-growing nail.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina said:

‘A rapid change in the environment, lifestyle and health conditions – such as diet, physical activity and body composition – has occurred over the past 30 years. Increasing trends in adolescent and adult height, birth-weight and rate of growth have been reported. Our results indicate that there may be an increased trend in fingernail and toenail growth rate as well.’

D.W. Beaven & S.E. Brooks: 'A Color Atlas of the Nail in Clinical Diagnosis'. 'A Color Atlas of the Nail in Clinical Diagnosis' describes a study by Prof. William Bennett Bean [1909 - 1989] who studied the growth of his own left thumb fingernail for 3 decades:

"William Bean measured his own left thumbnail growth each day over 30 years and found this to be 0.123 mm/day [= 3.69 mm/month] at 32 years of age and 0.100 mm/day [= 3.00 mm/month] when aged 61."


  • TIP Color atlas of the nail in clinical diagnosis
    AUTHORS: D.W. Beaven & S.E. Brooks

  • Nails tend to grow faster in summer. Cold environments and smoking are factors that can slow down growth. Teresa Smith, director of the mobile manicure service, said:

    ‘Nail length has increased, the main reason being that we have a far more healthy, balanced diet. Also, people are more aware of their bodies’ nutritional needs. I find I need to cut nails down more on my middle-aged clients. This is more than likely downto lifestyle choices as they tend to have a healthier diet and do less manual work that can damage nails. The sun does help nails grow faster, too, because of Vitamin D. And people tend to drink more water in the summer which flushes out toxins and makes the body healthier, so nails grow stronger. Omega-3 is also good for cell structure which would lead to nails that are less likely to break, thus giving the impression that they are growing faster.’

    Ms Smith claims that wearing nail polish makes people more aware of their nails so they are less likely to use them as ‘tools’:

    ‘Red is especially good as it is an instinctive warning colour, so nail-biters will be less likely to have a nibble,’ she says.

    Nails can be an indicator of overall wellbeing. Brittle nails can be caused by lack of iron, thyroid malfunction, poor circulation and kidney function. Yellow nails can be a sign of problems with the lymphatic drainage system or liver, or of diabetes.

    If nails split vertically, foods rich in iron and zinc should strengthen them. It takes ten months for a full toenail to grow, while fingernails take six months. The growth rate of nails also depends on age and conditions such as psoriasis.

    Source: The DailyMail

    NOTICE: Scientists have also discovered that head sizes of infants in Britain have grown at a faster rate since 1930. According to the academic journal Intelligence, the average head circumference of a one-year-old increased by about 1.5cm between 1930 and 1985.


    How to avoid brittle nails?

    Lee Redmond used to have the Guinness World Record 'longest fingernails'

    NOTICE: Lee Redmond lives in Salt Lake City ... which is known for having the 'perfect' climate for growing long fingernails (Salt Lake City's average humidity = 55% ...!!!)

    - Climate-effect on fingernails:
    nails grow faster in a humidity of 55%


    Fingernail disorders & related sources:
    Index of nail disorders
    The hands of children: fingernail disorders in childhood!
    Examining Fingernails in elderly patients!
    Nail Encylopedia
    The Nail Tutor
    Fingernails grow faster on a proteine diet



    © COPYRIGHT 2002-2017: Martijn van Mensvoort